Supreme Court Sides With Patient in Beautiful Mind Case

OTTAWA – June 6, 2003 –The Supreme Court of Canada released today its decision in in the "Beautiful Mind" case upholding the right of renowned physicist Professor Scott Starson to refuse anti-psychotic and mood stabilizing medications proposed by his treating psychiatrist, Dr. Russel Fleming.

Writing for six of the nine judges of the Court, Mr. Justice Jack Major wrote that the Consent and Capacity Board erred when it "placed primary importance on what it believed to be in the respondent [Professor Starson]’s best interest" rather than "whether Professor Starson has the capacity to make up his own mind as to whether he wanted to take medication or not."

For the full text of the decision, please click here.

The country’s highest Court confirmed the decisions of Madam Justice Anne Molloy of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. It agreed with the lower courts that the Consent and Capacity Board’s decisions applying the test for capacity must be reasonable. Supreme Court went further, however, respecting the interpretation of the test for capacity itself, holding that this is a matter of law that the Consent and Capacity Board must interpret correctly.

For additional background, please click here.

Swadron Associates represented the Mental Health Legal Committee (lawyers and community legal workers practicing mental health law) and the Mental Health Legal Advocacy Coalition (a consumer/survivor advocacy group) both of which were granted leave to intervene by the Supreme Court. The case was argued on January 15, 2003.